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Al-Kawthar Secondary School

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Al-Kawthar Secondary School
Situated in Beirut, Lebanon, Al-Kawthar School is a school which fosters a passion for learning, right from the moment students start preschool to the moment they graduate. The school’s curriculum enables every student to acquire the knowledge, skills and personal qualities needed to open doors to life-long opportunities and to progress to both university and work beyond. This year, our school has gone in depth with the Skills Builder approach, finding the best ways to teach these essential skills, after a previous year of publicity and spreading knowledge about the approach and its integration with the British Council’s core skills. Taking part in the Skills Builder Global Accelerator this year, we wanted to help our teachers understand the approach better and were keen to also build our students’ skills in a systematic way using more focused tools and methodologies. We also spread the Skills Builder approach and methodologies to the wider Al-Mabarrat schools network.
Overall impact
This academic year, we felt more responsible to have a systematic way to implement Skills Builder in the classrooms and to start having evidence about the impact of learning and practicing these skills, on both our students and teachers as well. The committee we formed during our first year on the Global Accelerator programme, continued their weekly meetings to monitor the school’s progress. We also continued the subcommittees with teachers from each educational cycle, this year focusing on involving new teachers and creating new events for the preschool. With a deeper understanding of the approach, we reviewed last year’s curriculum mapping and found where the essential skills could be better integrated and taught. We also created new resources and activities to introduce the skills and teach them. Parents also took a bigger role this year by running tasks with their children to apply at home, helping us in observing the impact of teaching the skills on their kids’ knowledge and attitude through evaluation forms. All of this helped us to continue move forward for a better impact on essential skills for both teachers and students.
Keep it simple
This year, we continued our focus on teaching essential skills. We updated the displays around the school, and new teachers were introduced to the program in a special activity. We also created model lesson plans and held training workshops for all teachers. We collected feedback from teachers and students to see how the program was being implemented. We rewarded students and teachers who were doing a good job of teaching and practicing the skills. We also used the Skills Builder Homezone to communicate with parents about the project. The leading committee met regularly to discuss how the skills were being taught in the classroom. We also conducted observations and learning walks to assess the implementation of the approach. Essential skills has become part of our school's policy and curriculum. We created a presentation about our journey with the programme, and we presented it to other schools in our network. We provided them with curriculum mapping so they can integrate the skills into their own programs.
Start early, keep going
The program took place across the whole school with all cycles. This year, we continued to develop new skills across each of the four cycles according to their priority. In the secondary cycle, we focused on all skills - to reinforce acquiring them throughout the year. Teachers were supported through training and the cycle teams focused on how they made the skills accessible for learners of different ages.
Measure it
We conducted two types of assessments throughout the year. One type of assessment was to measure students' prior knowledge of the two new skills introduced in each cycle. The other type of assessment was to measure the development of four essential skills chosen in each cycle. We conducted individual assessments for each student, and the cycle committees discussed the results as class-level assessments. We used a variety of offline and online tools to support the assessments, including the Skills Builder Hub and offline individual-student assessments. All teachers completed assessments throughout the year. The teachers then used the results of the assessments to plan further activities for students. These activities were a mixture of support and challenge, so that all students could reach their full potential.
Focus tightly
At the start of the year, our committee's main goal was to ensure that the Skills Builder Universal Framework was being effectively implemented in the classroom and teachers were explicitly teaching the relevant steps to their students. We achieved this by providing teachers with training, developing model lessons, discussing lesson plans, observing teaching sessions, and providing feedback. We also gathered feedback from students and listened to their voices to see the impact of the program. We invited the organisational committee at Al-Mabarrat to attend our leading meeting to discuss our approach and to gather their recommendations for other All-Mabarrat schools to implement next year.
Keep practising
Celebrations and events at our school this year primarily focused on essential skills. After in-depth training, teachers became more creative in all subject areas. They wrote scripts, poems, and other materials about essential skills and their importance, with the help of students and parents. They also trained students to perform these materials on stage at various events held throughout the school. Art, drama, and sports teachers played a significant role in training students for these performances. This year, students were also asked to research essential skills and reflect on their importance and impact on their lives as students and future employees, especially in secondary school. These skills are essential for success in school, work, and life. By focusing on these skills, we are preparing our students for a bright future.
Bring it to life
Throughout the academic year, students in elementary classes were able to demonstrate the application of skills through practice. They created their own exhibitions to explain different careers, using skills such as listening (chefs) and creativity and leadership (painters). Students from all classes (kindergarten through secondary) implemented skills in the science and math fair, using leadership, teamwork, creativity, and communication skills. The school also ran events and projects across different subject areas, where students implemented skills. Additionally, many students participated in competitions with other schools and won prizes because they were able to effectively implement different skills. Secondary students used art to transform a novel into a poem, using creativity and teamwork skills. Kindergarten students, with the help of their parents, created a song about skills. This year, we presented our work to other schools in Al-Mabarrat, answering their questions and encouraging them to start implementing the program in their schools. With the help of the organizational committee, we prepared an introductory session online for all schools to learn more about the program, in addition to a PowerPoint presentation for the principals.
What's next
Next year, we will continue what we have started this year focusing on teaching the skills and start measuring the impact on students’ behaviour and teachers’ performance. We will be leading school for other schools from Al-Mabarrat that are accepted to apply for the accelerator award by being an open school for them giving them opportunity to attend the leading committee meeting, providing them with prepared teacher training and lesson plans.